The Park Place Economist


From 1980 to 2009, the African-born population in United States grew from just under 200,000 to almost 1.5 million (McCabe, 2011). According to the New York Times, the number of black African immigrants alone doubled in the 2000's (2014). Clearly, there has been a significant increase in the population of Africans in the U.S. A logical question to ask is what has been attracting Africans? If we agree with Barry Chiswick that "economic migrants tend on average to be more able, ambitious, aggressive, entrepreneurial, or otherwise more favorably selected than similar individuals who choose to remain in their place of origin" (1999), we may conclude that the economic returns to all these qualities must be increasing. Therefore, another question to ask, and the focus of this research, is what is the labor market experience of the workers among African immigrants, and how does it change over time in comparison to U.S. natives? If the population of Africans in the U.S is increasing significantly, it is important to conduct an empirical study of their labor market performance.

The purpose of this research, therefore, is to determine the wage differential between African immigrants and U.S. natives, and study how this differential varies with time as a way of testing if African immigrants assimilate with natives. I hypothesize that ceteris paribus, African immigrants will earn lower wages than natives, but this wage differential will decrease over time.